4
min

Interview

Image de Benjamin Hobbes

Benjamin Hobbes

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It was my first real interview ever. Jiffy Lubes, just down the street. They had a nice manager, Jim was his name.
I introduced myself and started making small talk.
Pretty soon he told me, “Benny, I’m gonna have you take a little test.”
I hated tests, they always left me nervous and with sweaty palms. “What kinda test?”
“You’ll see,” was the only response. “You are now a full time mechanic at Jiffy Lube.”
“What!? I don’t know the first thing about fixing cars or changing oil,” I protested.
“Bluff.” He said, pointing at a lady coming across the parking lot towards them. “Show me.”
He must be crazy, I thought. What the heck, Ill give a try.
I hurried out of the garage towards the woman, my hand outstretched.
“Hello ma’am, my name is Josh Hands, how are you today?”
She looked frustrated at having been stopped in the sun halfway to her destination, still trying to understand what this fast-talking mechanic had said.
You stupid idiot, I thought, you stopped her mid-stride. Taking her elbow, I led her to the garage where Jim was, still in the shade, observing.
“How may I help you?”
Well, she began, I’ve been having some trouble driving my car around.”
“Mack!” I yelled to a man across the garage that seemed to be looking under the hood of a car. He didn’t respond. Course not, that’s not even his name.
I whistled, and he looked at me with brows raised. Nice recovery
“Could you get the papers for this lady from the office?”
Before ‘Mack’ could respond, another man leaned out from behind the same car. He wore a suit and looked angry at having been interrupted.
Oops, he already had a customer.
Improvise Ben.
“You know what, lets just go inside and I can take care of the paperwork myself. Can I get you anything to drink, coffee, tea...?
I held open the door for her and Jim followed us inside.
“No thank you, I’m fine.”
I looked around quickly for an office or even desk without a nameplate. There was only one in the place anyway so it wasn’t hard. Right beside it though was a secretaries office. I ignored the name on the glass and opened the door without knocking. What was a good secretary name?
“Suzy, do you know where the diagnostic forms are being kept today?
The poor woman on the phone looked astonished, but before she could respond, I muttered a quick “never mind” and shut the door.
“Please have a seat” motioning to an uncomfortable looking plastic chair on the customer side.
Gees, I wish they had better accommodations.
She sat as I also took a seat opposite, behind the desk, Jim still hovering in the background like a ghost, observing.
I glanced around and saw some order forms for parts with the two-tone receipts. I pulled one out and asked “What seems to be the problem with your car, Mrs....
“It’s Miss. Miss Johnson.”
“Alright, Miss Johnson, what seems to be the trouble?”
“Well,” she began, “I think all the front-right tire is bald and needs replacement. Also, my steering column creaks when I turn corners.”
We just stared at each other for awhile while I thought, “good Lord Benny, she knows more about cars than you do.”
I nodded and looked down at the paper to earn time.
There was a spot on their for customer contact information so I quickly slipped it across the deck to her with a pen. “Why don’t you fill this out while I go take a look at your vehicle? Then we can tell you if it needs to be kept here.”
“Well, why can’t he do it?” now looking at Jim with suspicious eyes.
“Yes, why can’t you do it?” now directing my question to him.
He said nothing, just stood there, staring at me.
“Honestly, what’s this world coming to?” I chuckled nervously, “my own employees won’t even listen to me.”
“How long have you worked here?” she asked, apparently shocked that Jim had completely ignored us.
“Um, the better part of four years,” coming up with a quick lie.
Now those suspicious eyes were cast my way.
“And what kind of parts do you use?”
“I beg your pardon?” I had no idea what she meant.
“Replacement parts, for repairs and such.”
“Oh, repairs, of course.” There was no answer to the question, best to just dodge it. “Well, it might sound strange but I’ve found that the best parts to use are used ones. We get most of them from local junkyards, parts that aren’t old to the point of rusty but used enough to be perfectly efficient for what they were intended. The sports car owners get a little picky if, or when, they find this out because they want everything bran spanking new. So occasionally we custom order parts.” I said this last sentence with a smile, hoping she’d stop asking questions.
No such luck.
“Well, in those rare instances, what company do you use?”
She would not be deterred.
I looked around for inspiration, avoiding Jims gaze. Just then, an old truck rumbled into the parking lot. Its side read: Automotive parts: The best in the country. Call Smithe and Brothers to order today.
“Smithe and Brothers,” I said, without looking back at her.
“Ok” was all I got in response, so they must have been a good company or she was just satisfied to hear a name. Any name.
“I’m going to go take a look at your car with Mack,” getting up.
“It’s the green Accord out by the sign.”
“Just come out when you’ve finished filling out that paperwork.” Jim followed me out the door to the garage, gasoline and grease heavy in the air.
Then I panicked, I couldn’t diagnose a car, let alone fix one, I’d have to tell her we were going to keep it here.
Jim must have seen my breathing deepen.
“Relax,” he said, pointing to the Accord.
I looked, and there, in the parking lot, was a car with a brand new front-right tire on it, with a mechanic under the hood.
I was amazed; they had some speed in this place.
“Forget the lady; ‘Mack’ will take care of the forms.”
I nodded, overwhelmed.
Jim grinned, “I’m impressed you were able to improvise so easily. You’re hired”
He walked back inside, leaving me even more floored. What an interview.
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